Thursday, December 9, 2010

The instruments are ready!

Greetings everyone!

Peguy sent us a few photos last night of the new instruments that were made for the school, and we wanted to share one with you. We're so excited for the students! The instruments include a toum and kak (the two drums), a keu (also known as an African telephone, slit drum, or kri), cow bells, kalimba, zaa koua (the harp), bamboo shakers and bamboo guerro. We're looking forward to seeing some video footage in the coming months of the students practicing with their teacher.

Please stay posted for more information about our fundraiser coming up on May 21, 2011!

All the best,
Njacko and Val

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Project 1 has wrapped up, school is about to begin!

Hello everyone,

We're very happy to let you know that work on the first project has wrappedup! From the photos below, you can see that a lot of work has been done to replace an interior structural wall of the school, new windows and doors provided, and plastering of the school's exterior mud bricks. This was a lot of work, and we're so excited to see that our partners in Bazou successfully completed the project! And we want to thank all of you again for supporting this important work. The school and students at St. Albert pass along their sincere gratitude.

Now that school is starting, we're getting ready to work with the school to start the new music program at St. Albert. Many of the instruments can be made by the school (shakers, bamboo sticks), but we're going to help the school purchase cow bells, drums, and kalimbas. This is an interim mini-project. We'll be having our annual fundraiser on May 21, 2011, at the Gladstone Hotel to raise funds for Project #2!

Here are some photos showing the completion of Project 1:

One video showing a bit of work towards the end of Project 1:

Friday, August 6, 2010

More photos of great progress, & save the date (May 21 2011)

Hello everyone, we hope that you are all having a wonderful summer. A great big thanks to the generous few folks who have contributed over the past couple of weeks for the projects. We have enough funds to finish the first project! We are committed to working with the school for at least 5 years, and really appreciate the ongoing support that is coming from all over the community!

Please mark your calendars - our next benefit event for this project will be held on May 21, 2011 at the Gladstone Hotel. We thank the Gladstone Hotel for their amazing support for this project! More details on the benefit will be forthcoming.

We're pleased to see things take shape at Ecole St. Albert Le Grand. These are the latest photos from our nephew Peguy who is documenting the progress of the work with visits to Bazou (he lives in Douala). Without Peguy, this project would be very difficult to realize. He facilitates our communication with the Priest and the Principal of the school (we rely on his cell phone!) He is our eyes and ears and is doing an amazing job keeping us up to date on the amazing progress that you see in these photos!

Peguy also has some video footage of the work at the school, and we hope to receive that in the coming month and will share it as soon as it is available.

The focus of the first project has been to erect new internal walls for the school to divide the different classrooms. If the budget permits, some furniture will also be provided.

(...sorry for the sideways photo...I'm still learning some things about blogspot...)

As we mentioned in our last post, our next project is going to be starting in September! Starting September, the children in Bazou will be taught traditional music at school. As far as we are aware, this will be the first music program in elementary school in Cameroon.

The gentleman in the sideways photo is Bagante, and he is a very talented musician who lives in Bazou. He will be the music teacher. We're really looking forward to seeing and hearing the music that Bagante and the students at St. Albert Le Grand create together! If you are interested in contributing to this project, please get in touch. We will be funding the school to purchase their own instruments for the children to use at school.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great progress & a new project for September!

Hello everyone, our friends at Ecole St. Albert Le Grand have been busy for the past several weeks! Here are some photos to show the progress that has been made for the first project with rebuilding the interior of one of the school buildings. The interior walls that were falling down were demolished, and new concrete block walls are being built. Work is going well, and we have sent the second half of the money to complete the project! We expect to see the work wrapped up before the end of the summer. Check back soon for more photos!

We're happy to share the exciting news that we are working with the school to start a music program for the kids. Traditional music is not taught in any schools in Cameroon, and we are working to have a new class for all of the kids. We have found a musician who will teach, and will be raising some money over the end of the summer to help the school purchase some instruments and pay the music teacher's wages. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please let us know! Email: Phone: 416.836.8951

Monday, May 31, 2010

Project Kick-off!

Hello everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that we will be sending the first instalment of 750,000 CFA (about $1500) to L'École St. Albert le Grand at the end of this week. We've been in touch with the school, and they want all of you to know that they really appreciate the donations. They want us all to know that they are going to make sure that all of the money will be very well used.

We are really looking forward to hearing from the school as the project progresses, and we'll give you updates as they are available.

Njacko and Val

ps - for an update on Njacko's work in June, please check out our newsletter

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Setting things in motion, one step at a time

A big thank you to everyone for your continued support for this project. Between our fundraiser on May 7th, and the donations we received last December, our total collection for the first project is now just a few dollars shy of $4000!

We are in touch with Ecole St. Albert Le Grand, and our representative in Cameroon will be meeting with them this weekend to go over the plan and budget for the first project. Our contribution to the school for the first project will be 1,500,000 CFA.

With the school year coming to an end in Cameroon, we will be sending the first installment of the budget to the school in a couple of weeks. We'll have an update soon on when the project will be getting started.

Also, for those of you in the Toronto area on June 9th, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley will be launching their new CD at Hugh's room. Diana and Chris were two of the artists who contributed to making the fundraiser on May 7th such a wonderful evening. This show is definitely not to be missed! More details:

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 7th Fundraiser a BIG Success! Thank you for your support!

We'd like to thank everyone who came out on May 7th to the Gladstone Hotel to support our new project with École Saint Albert Le Grand in Bazou, Cameroon. We would also like to thank the Gladstone Hotel for their generous support. With everyone's help, we were able to raise $1,972.36 and more pledges are trickling in! If we add this to the $1000 that we raised in December 2009 at our holiday party/plant sale, we have a great start for our first project with École Saint Albert Le Grand.

We are still accepting contributions to support our project (see description below). Please contact us at:
phone: 416.836.8951
mail: PO Box 632, 31 Adealide St. E., Toronto, ON M5C 2J8, Canada

Cheques can be made out to Valery Woloshyn or Njacko Backo.

A special thank you goes out to all of the artists who generously donated their time on May 7th:
Marni Levitt
Jacques Yams
Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley - June 9 CD release
Amara Kanté
Amadou Kienou
Steafan Hannigan & Saskia Tomkins
Njacko Backo & Kalimba Kalimba

More about our project...

In January 2009, Njacko Backo and Valery Woloshyn travelled to Bazou, Cameroon, to celebrate the lives of Njacko’s late parents, Tchoumi Christine and Nana Mathieu. While in Cameroon, Njacko and Val visited École Saint Albert Le Grand, the school that Njacko attended as a child, to deliver some school supplies that were donated by friends and family in Canada. During the visit, the couple was inspired to do more to help improve the education of the youngest members of the community. At the time, the school was missing a roof on about 30% of the buildings which meant that their classes were crowded into the parts of the school with the roof still intact. The latrines behind the school were falling apart, and the buildings in general were not in good condition.

Late in 2009, the school and the community worked together to replace the missing sections of roof on their own. This was an important first step to protect the mud bricks of the building from further weather damage, and demonstrated the commitment of the community to the school. However these newly covered rooms are still not ready for the students.

Our first project will be to repair these rooms so that the students can return to these parts of the school. Following that, we will work with the school to prioritize the next projects to be completed over the next five years. Future potential projects include: repaired or new latrines; providing water supply and hand washing stations; drinking water system; rebuilding the school as the original construction has started to fall apart.

Currently we have no plans to become a registered charity. 100% of the donations we received at the recent fundraiser and future fundraising initiatives will be going to support the construction of room repairs and future projects. We thank you for your understanding that we cannot issue tax receipts. We also thank you for your trust that we will use the donations to the best of our ability to support the children in Bazou. We will not be using the funds to travel to visit the school. We will have a family member monitoring the work and progress, and will use this blog to share updates as they are available.

Thank you again for your interest and support. Please do feel free to ask any and all questions you may have about our project!